The opinion of the court was delivered by: MISHLER
Plaintiffs move for a temporary injunction enjoining defendants from proceeding in any manner to carry out or effect a merger of plaintiff Local 1345 with any other I.B.T. local union or unions or otherwise to suspend, limit or terminate the autonomy of Local 1345, and from conducting a referendum among the combined memberships of Locals Nos. 1, 8, 124, 329, 1059, 1096 and 1345 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for approval of the merger.
The action is brought by Brewery Bottlers & Drivers Union Local 1345, Brooklyn, New York, of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America (hereinafter called Local 1345) and members of said Local 1345 on behalf of themselves and all other members similarly situated against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America (hereinafter called International) and its General President, James R. Hoffa, and General Secretary, John English.
The claim stated in the complaint alleges that Local 1345 has functioned as an autonomous local union for upwards of 75 years; that its members (approximately 2500) are employed in bottling and delivering beer for five major beer companies; that they enjoy prime seniority and other valuable benefits; in 1953, Local 1345 was affiliated along with other locals with the International; under the conditions of affiliation, Local 1345 was to retain full autonomy and maintain its jurisdiction; on or about January 27, 1962, Local 1345 and six other locals affiliated with the International were advised that, the General Executive Board of the International voted to adopt a report proposing '* * * a merger of 7 Teamster locals in New York City into two newly-chartered local unions.' i.e., a 'production' local and a 'delivery' local; the referendum is to be conducted among the seven locals as one combined unit; the membership of Local 1345 is overwhelmingly opposed to the merger but the greater number of votes of the other locals may effectively destroy Local 1345.
The gravamen of claim and the basis for invoking the jurisdiction of the Court are stated in paragraphs 25 and 26 of the complaint. It states that the merger would constitute a method of supervision or control whereby the International would be suspending the autonomy otherwise available under its constitution and by-laws and therefore a trusteeship as defined in the Labor-management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (referred to hereinafter by the abbreviation L.M.R.D.A.). Further, that said 'trusteeship by merger' is not for the purposes set forth, in the L.M.R.D.A.
The threshold question is one of jurisdiction. The consequences of the contemplated merger, its economic effect in the industry, and the possible benefits that might accrue to the members generally are not the subject of this determination.
Article XV, Section 1 of the Constitution and By-Laws of Local 1345 provides:
'This Local Constitution is at all times subject to the provisions of the International Constitution.'
And Article XVII, Section 1 of the Constitution and By-Laws of Local 1345 provides:
'These By-Laws are subject to the Constitution of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and applicable conference By-Laws.'
It may be stated as a broad general principle that courts will not interfere with internal machinery of a labor union. The decision to become affiliated with the International was one of policy; the purported reservation of autonomy was a futile attempt to retain freedom of action while becoming an integral part of the International. The concept of the reservation of autonomy is elusive and confusing.
Viewed by parties outside its structure, a local is seen as one of the parts of the parent union. It cannot be destroyed without the consent of the parent union. M & M Woodworking Co. v. Plywood & Veneer Workers Union No. 102, D.C., 23 F.Supp. 11. Nor can it vote to dissolve though a majority wish it. Low v. Harris, 7 Cir., 90 F.2d 783. Where the parent union constitution provides for affiliation, so long as ten members in good standing favor affiliation, a vote of two-thirds of the members for withdrawal will not dissolve affiliation. M & M Woodworking Co. v. N.L.R.B., 9 Cir., 101 F.2d 938. Under Article XX of the International Constitution 'No Local Union can dissolve, secede or disaffiliate without the approval of the General Executive Board while there are seven (7) dissenting members.' It appears clear that autonomy does not necessarily mean the right of the majority to make decisions for the local in its relationship to the parent union.
Section 11 of Article IX of the International Constitution states as follows:
'Section 11. The General Executive Board in its sound discretion shall have the power to merge Local Unions and other subordinate bodies under such terms and conditions and subject to such qualifications as the General Executive Board may determine, taking into consideration such circumstances as financial conditions, jurisdiction, location, and such other facts as it ...